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An article in today's Washington Post caught my eye. The word PowerPoint and the associated image “Katie's Christmas List 2005” (see below) jumped out at me. The article was titled, “PowerPoint Slides: the New Puppy-Dog Eyes: Kids Increasingly Use Tech Savvy To Sell Their Holiday Wish Lists.”

Katie, an 11 year-old girl, put together a 12 page presentation for her parents. In her words, “My sister gave me the idea. My sister and my sister's friend did a PowerPoint too. I thought it would be a good idea so my parent's could see the pictures and so they would know exactly what to get.  Because sometimes it's kinda hard to understand when you write it down.

Ylan Q. Mui, the article’s author writes, “Sometimes, when children want something badly enough, miracles start to happen.

Promises of spotless rooms and perfect report cards are made. Letters to Santa are neatly typed and spellchecked. Sullen teenagers take the headphones from their ears to shower their parents with compliments.

But kids today don't stop there. They are employing their high-tech savvy to wow their parents into fulfilling their Christmas wish lists.”

One of the more insightful comments Mui makes is “This is the generation that has never known a world without the Internet. They rush home from school to talk to their friends online and flirt over text messages. They have mastered the latest communication technologies and added them to their holiday arsenal.”

This is fascinating. Kids of all ages are using technology to learn and communicate. I look forward to the next generation of business storytellers. 


One of the cool aspects of my job is that I get to meet people from around the world and talk to them about the vagaries of communication. With people outside my geographic area, we stay in touch by sending articles of interest (keep 'em coming).

I received an interesting email yesterday. She titled the email “She really knows her audience.” It was a sports article from

The article is about Kim Ng and the prospect of her becoming baseball’s first female general manager. The article also included a brief history of the two other prominent women in baseball. This part posted an interesting aspect to audience analysis. The description of Jean Afterman’s approach to fitting in to the male-dominated world of baseball was quite revealing. Here’s the excerpt: 

“Only three women have risen to assistant GM. The first was Elaine Weddington Steward, hired by the Boston Red Sox in 1990. When Ng left the Yankees, she was replaced by Jean Afterman, a lawyer who had worked for agent Don Nomura.

Afterman said she never felt gender issues with players, but she did when working alongside club officials.

 ‘You feel it in what I call quaint ways,’ she said. ‘The guys tend to try to modify their language. There are two things that I try and establish any time I’m going into a room where I don’t know the people. One is that I’m an attorney, because there’s a healthy respect. The other is I have to drop a profanity as soon as I come in there. I probably have a worse mouth than anybody else in my department.’”

A few questions come to mind. Is Ms. Afterman cursing for her audience? Or is cursing already part of personality? How did she come to realize that being an attorney is such an asset? Is being an attorney an asset or is the asset more of the way that she carries herself? 

I’m not sure why being a lawyer engenders automatic respect. I believe that people respect others who give respect. This respect concept is a rewording of the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Treat everyone with respect and appreciate diversity of thought. It is something that I emphasize with all of my clients. 

Further, to be successful in relationship building, one must be true to oneself--be genuine and be authentic. People are amazingly insightful and can readily detect b.s. artists. Let’s say that Ms. Afterman is genuine and authentic. I applaud her for her insight into “it’s all about them.” Ms. Afterman did her homework, knew what she had to do, became more self-aware of her audience and surroundings, and made it happen.

Whatever is right for you, always be true to yourself.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Leave Your But's Behind

In terms of usage, I place "but" at the top of the worst words in the English language. It is an absolutely horrific word. It negates everything said previously.

Yes but, no but, and just plain ol but permeate conversations. While at networking functions and social gatherings, I've informally counted the frequency of "but" utterances. They rival any commonplace word like "and," "I," and "a."

"But" has become such an accepted word that most people have absolutely no idea how many times they use it. Our "Yes And" exercises make people acutely aware of the use of these negative words. Yes And is a concept from improvisational humor (look for a future entry to describe Yes And in more detail). It makes you become an active listener. When we do our "Yes And" exercises, it takes a lot of practice for participants to embrace Yes And and attempt to leave the but's behind (pun intended).

Typically, about a month after attending a workshop or becoming a client, people email and call to confirm that the but's are slowly being eliminated. Also, they share that they are becoming whole body communicators employing Yes And.

Here's a challenge, a big challenge.

Try this for one day at first. Before hitting the send key on your emails, replace every instance of "but," "however," "although," and "on the other hand" with a period or "and." I'll bet you thousands of Monopoly dollars that this suggestion will not change your meaning or intent. In fact, this suggestion will strengthen your message. Part B. After doing this for a few days, slowly implement this process into your spoken words. Become more self-aware of when and why you use "but." Same process, replace with a period or and.

It would be great for you to share some of your successful "yes and" results.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Treat Everyone Like a CEO

I met Dave about two years ago when a mutual friend connected us (social networking). In his first email to me, I noticed the quote below after his signature line. This quote really resonated with me. I use it in all of our networking track workshops and services. It succinctly imparts the goal of networking--look for opportunity, genuine connection, and authentic conversation. Leave the pre-conceived notions, agendas, and biases at the door. Treat everyone like a CEO.

"Remember that the person you’re about to meet can become as important to you as someone you’ve known for years."

— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Life's Little Instruction Book
June 8, 2002 Block Calendar

Today, I gave the "3 Steps To A Perfect Elevator Speech" workshop to the Harvard Business School Alumni of Washington, DC. Sitting beside me was a woman with a great deal of passion, a wonderful smile and disposition, and a jargon-filled elevator speech. After she told me what she did, she self-admitted that it was very technical. And she said something like, "At networking events, I only talk with people that understand my jargon, my world. If they don't get it that's okay.  Then I wasn't meant to talk with them."

I shared with her that in this room alone, there were 50 potential clients, 50 potential referring individuals, and 50 potential partners. The potential was in her elevator speech. She smiled that look of "oh, I didn't think of that."

Great Stories TravelTM.  This is a phrase that I often use.  An elevator speech is the beginning of your great story.  It serves to pique interest and to be your "persistent" and memorable verbal calling card.

At the end of the workshop, she promised to email me in a month with a reworked version that is audience-centered.

Friday, September 02, 2005

All-Time Best Quote from Maya Angelou

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Maya Angelou
American Poet

Friday, September 02, 2005


Hello Everyone!

Welcome, welcome, welcome!! I am very excited about starting a blog.  Friends, colleagues, clients, Romans, and countrymen have been telling me for months to start one.  It's time.  I look forward to sharing thoughts and reading yours on everything and anything related to business storytelling, content, messaging, and so forth.



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